The CXO of one of the world's largest hospitals won't miss this 30-minute weekly meeting

In my last column, I shared one of the things that keeps me awake at night: reconciling and integrating technology into how we deliver care. We've all seen the research about stress and burnout among caregivers. Often this is related to ever-increasing documentation requirements and a sometimes disorienting array of technology at the bedside. 

This challenge is amplified when we look at consumerism's impact on healthcare. Patients and families are becoming more and more facile with technology. The ubiquitous cellphone has transformed our lives. Interactions and transactions are more virtual than ever. We can spend days debating the virtue of this development, but it's undeniably here to stay. Patients and families expect healthcare to catch up with this reality.

All of this has come together in a very challenging way for our organizations, and not a day goes by when this issue doesn't come up in my work. That's why I've worked hard with our CIO, Daniel Barchi, to address this challenge.

Daniel and I have created a partnership — PX and IT — that has turned out to be a powerful engine for integration and improvement in the experience for our staff, providers, patients and families.

The most successful CXOs have strong and hardwired partnerships with their colleagues, including CIOs. Daniel and I have worked together for 4 years now. What does our collaborative PX-IT partnership look like?

First, it means we develop strategies for patient experience and information technology together. Our strategies inform each other and have clearly defined points of intersection. Over the last few years, those points have included things like working together on the implementation of a new EMR, design of patient portals, overhauling our patient infotainment system, innovating around call bell systems and other topics. 

How do we do this? It's simple, really: We meet once a week for 30 minutes.  

Daniel and I both start our days early, so we meet first thing in the morning. Often, coffee (or in my case, Diet Coke) is involved. We each bring a list. It might contain current projects our teams are working on together or, very often, our challenges. We brainstorm together and leave these brief check-ins with "to-do lists" that we then drive with our teams. It's actually amazing how much we get done by simply spending 30 minutes a week together. 

In a big and complex organization like NewYork-Presbyterian, Daniel and I have to make choices about our teams' priorities every time we meet. As we work through the issues, we always start with what's right for our patients and staff. Then, we look at our items in terms of NYP's strategic goals, current budget and resource realities. We can't always tackle everything on our lists, but we focus on what we can fix or address today, trusting that we can build on that work tomorrow. 

The examples I mention above are hardcore operational issues, but we also work together on transformational efforts. For example, Daniel and his team have launched one of the nation's largest virtual visit programs. It's been a huge win for our patients and providers. And, my team and I have been part of the design and rollout. Daniel and I are also key partners on an access improvement initiative that involves a redesign of our patient-facing call centers and websites. We've collaborated extensively on the deployment of AI in a number of settings, which has brought together our access, telecom, patient experience, innovation and other team members on an initiative critical for our future success.

A successful and robust patient experience improvement strategy is doomed if it's siloed. Partnerships are critical to ensuring any effort to improve experience is integrated and embedded. IT is integral to the work. In my previous roles, I have seen too many examples of where IT and PX hardly ever intersect. Or, even worse, where IT and PX are so disjointed, both are destined to miss the mark. We are consciously trying to buck that trend at NewYork-Presbyterian. 

A long list of work remains on both my and Daniel's lists. As gratified as we are with some of the progress we've made, our patients and providers tell us much more is needed. The issues of technology integration and addressing burnout factors remain top of mind for our organization and for healthcare in general. There's no resting on laurels here. The PX-IT partnership we have created here gives me hope that we'll be able to make real progress on these issues in the months and years to come.    

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